Thursday, April 12, 2012

Obedience School -- Getting My Do.G. Degree

People have been making jokes about sending their loved ones -- husbands and wives -- to obedience school for as long as I can remember. You might remember Hal Boyle's "Poor Man's Philosopher" column from Nov. 1955, in which he quotes a reader, "Obedience schools for pets have worked out very well, so why not an obedience school for pet wives?" Hal concluded the column by asking the same thing about obedience schools for husbands, but said they'd be unnecessary, since marriage itself is their obedience school! Ain't it the truth!

But in my case, with no wife to push me around, let's say I wanted to go to obedience school. It'd just be for the experience of doing it. I used to say I wanted to be a professional student. And had I done that, pushing 60 as I am, I would've already learned everything worth knowing in the realm of human knowledge. It'd be a natural for me to learn what a dog has to go through. That'd be cool.

I'm thinking about it today because I drove by an animal hospital that said it's also an obedience school, and that they're "Now Accepting Enrollees." So what if a guy went in and said he wanted to enroll, with the full understanding, of course, that the other students would all be dogs? They'd probably take me, because my money's just as good as theirs. Plus, I'm already fairly obedient to the dictates of society, I'm sure I could handle anything a dog school could put me through.

It sounds weird, but I can well imagine it'd be like a spiritual experience. Communing with nature in a very strange setting. The dogs would be in rows, like in schools, them all naked, me in sweats. We'd be waiting for the teacher to get there, knowing if she was 10 minutes late we'd be out for the day! Then, being only nine minutes late, she shows up and looks us over. There's all of us, with our tongues hanging out, eager to learn. But since I'm looking at it as more of a spiritual experience, since it's almost a yoga class, and dogs have Buddha nature (maybe, depending on what Mu means), I've got one foot against my opposite leg and have praying hands.

It might be good for the teacher, too, because if she showed me the lesson, I'd be able to help her out. Like if the lesson was going to the cupboard, getting our dish, filling it with water, and setting it on the floor by the door, that'd be a cinch. Just hearing it once, I could do it point by point without error. I would walk to the cupboard, open it, etc., etc. The other dogs would be watching, not really having a clue, until the teacher and I kept demonstrating -- one dish each, turn the faucet like so, carry it over without slopping it everywhere, and set it down gently.

Some of it might be foreign to me. Like "Beginning Bone Burying." I'd go, "Excuse me? I'll just chew my bone, thank you." But they make a good point, because what if I want a fresh bone to chew tomorrow? Underground is where it will keep the freshest, where it's moist and cold. And where no other creature can get to it, unless it's a snake or ants or grubs or something. On second thought, how about I just put mine in the fridge? All I need is a Ziploc bag and a fridge, and maybe a way to cut my bone down to bite size chews for later, and it'll be perfect.

Training for nap time would have to be my favorite lesson. There's a pillow for each student in the modular storage cubes against yonder wall. And all we have to do -- obediently, of course -- is go over and pull one out with our mouth and drag it to an empty space on the floor. I could do that. Since I'm a person, it wouldn't be very hard, the basic maneuver of doing it. Still, it might take me a longer time than the others, because I would want a pillow without a wet corner, one that wasn't used in a previous class. So I'm over there feeling all the pillows, and looking for other signs of dirt and slobber. Then, if we napped till noon, that'd be a decent class! Get up, dig a bone chew out of the fridge for lunch and the day's half done!

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